With Saudi Arabia – one of Washington’s most powerful allies – under increasing media scrutiny, Donald Trump needed a distraction. And it didn’t take him long to think of one.
His apparent diversion tactic? To throw a less powerful dictatorial ally under the bus:
The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018
But the tactic soon backfired. Because people promptly reminded Trump of why so many people are fleeing Honduras.
Longstanding US imperialism in Honduras
US imperialism has long played a key role in Honduran politics. American banana companies, for example, essentially became the country’s “new colonial power” just decades after its independence from Spain. And it eventually became an important US military hub in the region.
Most recently, US officials allegedly helped to install a pro-US regime in Honduras through a 2009 coup. There was a connection between this event and a notorious US military school linked to countless coups, dictators, and torture regimes across Latin America. And the Obama administration (Hillary Clinton in particular) supported the new regime.
US silence – where it would usually sanction its enemies – exposed a clear disinterest in democracy and human rights:
The United States has destroyed our country; 2009 removing the president of power; and 2017 supporting dictatorship and electoral fraud. https://t.co/lX1sLRI9IN
— Amilcar carcamo (@carcamo_amilcar) October 16, 2018
These images of the 2k person migrant caravan coming through #Guatemala from #Honduras are remarkable. If only the US would have cut aid to #Honduras because of its human rights abuses and its president's illegal power grabbing, not because of the refugees seeking protection.
— Laura Weiss (@lauralew105) October 16, 2018
Murder rates in Honduras are now among the highest in the world. Public education and healthcare have come under attack through privatisation. And both state forces and mercenaries have fiercely protected this neoliberal agenda. Those who have profited include US corporations, the US military, drug traffickers, and a handful of elite Honduran families (who reportedly own up to 90% of the country’s wealth).
As one grassroots movement insists:
Since the coup, we have watched with horror as human rights defenders, indigenous and campesino communities, environmentalists, lawyers, journalists, LGBTQ community members, students and social movement leaders continue to be targeted for criminalization, attacks and murder.
What we have here is Trump telling a dictator to stop people fleeing his dictatorship by any means necessary. This should horrify everyone. https://t.co/35H5Kn1oca
— Ryan Morgan (@ryanheadedsouth) October 16, 2018
The link is clear: poverty and repression cause emigration
As Noam Chomsky has insisted:
the refugee flow started to peak after a military coup threw out the elected government.
Amnesty International has also explained that the people fleeing to the US “come from countries experiencing generalized violence and grave human rights violations, including Honduras”.
To strengthen corporate dominance, Washington steadily undermined democracy, encouraged exploitation and nourished anti-union violence.
This in turn “created the Central American migration crisis”.
US Embassy publishes communique about migrant caravan now close to Guatemala border asking ppl to stay in #Honduras to invest in their potential. How? US support for electoral fraud, privatization, violations of rights & mafia government since/before coup make that impossible https://t.co/pweeR3NpAQ
— Honduras Solidarity (@hondurassol) October 15, 2018
Thousands of Hondurans left on foot this morning from northwestern city of #SanPedroSula in a #caravan headed to the US. US foreign policy generates the conditions that cause ppl to migrate north #Honduras. Until US policy changes, migration will continue https://t.co/olKZJPSzpu
— Honduras Solidarity (@hondurassol) October 13, 2018
Throwing one dictatorial ally under the bus to save a more powerful one
The Honduras coup regime has played its US lackey role well in recent years – supporting US foreign policy positions, for example. But Saudi Arabia is more important to Washington; and losing lucrative arms deals because of media scrutiny over the alleged murder of a journalist is – as Trump has said – not an option.
The alternative? To throw a less powerful ally under the bus.
Trump and Pence trying to sound like 'tough guys' to Honduras DOES NOT distract from Trump 'sucking up to DICTATORS!'#VoteBlueToSaveAmericanDemocracy
— Chris Garza (@martyandchris) October 17, 2018
Now that it is known that Saudis lied about everything, Prez Trump will lie to the world and say that he believes the Saudi lies. And divert attention by perpetuating other lies about Iran, fake news, Honduras and god knows what. And his base will buy these lies.
— SB (@shraddhs) October 17, 2018
Fortunately, though, people are starting to see right through Trump’s cynical distraction techniques.
– In the UK, write to your MP to share your concerns about human rights in Honduras.
– Join The Canary so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr